Earlier today, top Free Agent prospect, Masahiro Tanaka, signed with the New York Yankees. His deal, for not pitching a single inning in the majors, was 7 years for $155 million. Now, it should come as no surprise where he went as the Yankees do love to spend money on free agents, as they have done so all offseason. While many fans who have followed Tanaka knew he would get a grip of money this offseason to pitch for a ballclub in 2014 and on. The Twins, while desperate for starting pitching once 2013 was over, were rumored to at least be interested in possibly signing Tanaka. This was a tall task given that the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees were the top spots to land him and have an unlimited amount of money to spend on big name players. Ultimately, we found solutions elsewhere and passed on Tanaka. One reason, our minor league system.
The Twins, like all teams, had gaps they needed to fill this offseason and did so early on in November. One area, however, where we separate ourselves from teams like the Yankees is our minor league system. We have one of the best in the game and have many bright stars who will be making big league impact in the coming years. The Yankees do not. While signing big name players to outrageously large contacts is the Yankees’ niche, the Twins build successful teams from within and have done so for many many years. Naturally, dry spells occur and our ball club is going through one at the moment. We have had some down years, but in return, have had the opportunity to pick early in the draft to help build our already strong minor league squads and depth chart.
We could go out and spend a ton of money to get Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew, or other players who received but denied qualifying offers to help bolster our roster, but they would come at a cost besides just their contract. The cost being a compensation pick in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft. Our organization holds dear to our belief the best way to build a sound organization is by solid drafting. In our last two first round picks we have drafted the number 1 overall minor league prospect in Byron Buxton and a young starting pitching stud in Kohl Stewart. But our minor league pool does not stop there. Miguel Sano, the 3rd best overall minor league prospect, is also ours and will eventually lock down 3rd base for the Twins in the coming year or two.
Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Minnesota Twins center Byron Buxton reacts against East during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
And this is just the tip of the iceberg for the Twins. Alex Meyer, a hard throwing starting pitcher who the Twins traded Denard Span for, is the Twins 3rd best prospect in the organization and will be taking over a starting spot soon as well. Other top prospects the Twins have in their holster are Trevor May (acquired in trade with Phillies for Ben Revere), Eddie Rosario (suspended 50 games for banned substance), Jose Berrios (2012 supplemental 1st round draft), and Max Kepler (International signing from Germany) to name a few. Of course, these players have to pan out in the majors for it all to pay off, but when an organization has to manufacture players within without spending a ton of money, the Twins are doing it the best they can.
My thought process on this is, take this past weekend’s NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. The two starting quarterbacks are very young and still under their rookie contracts making less than $750,000 this season. Meanwhile, big money QBs like Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan did not even make the playoffs. The Ravens and Falcons spent a bunch of money on their QBs to not make the playoffs while the Seahawks and Niners spent money and cap space elsewhere and wisely used their draft picks to become this successful.
While salary caps in the NFL make it vastly different than the MLB, who does not have a salary cap, the same concept of wisely spending money to field a successful team is usually what leads to a longer standing at the top than spending tons of money every year to try and solve problems short term. So as the Yankees keep trying to buy championships and fans, I will gladly accept another mediocre to slightly successful season by the Twins if it means they are building a solid squad. While I may be alone, I enjoy knowing the Twins are spending money wisely and have a forward thinking outlook opposed to solving gaping holes by throwing money carelessly while hoping it works out.
As Major General Charles C. Noble was quoted saying, “You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures.”